U.S. Special Operations Forces in the Philippines, 2001-2014

U.S. Special Operations Forces in the Philippines, 2001-2014

U.S. Special Operations Forces in the Philippines, 2001-2014

U.S. Special Operations Forces in the Philippines, 2001-2014

Synopsis

This report examines the 14-year experience of U.S. special operations forces in the Philippines from 2001 through 2014. The objective of this case history is to document and evaluate the activities and effects of special operations capabilities employed to address terrorist threats in Operation Enduring Freedom — Philippines through (1) training and equipping Philippine security forces, (2) providing operational advice and assistance, and (3) conducting civil–military and information operations. The report evaluates the development, execution, and adaptation of the U.S. effort to enable the Philippine government to counter transnational terrorist groups. An average of 500 to 600 U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps special operations units were employed continuously under the command of a joint special operations task force. They provided training, advice, and assistance during combat operations to both Philippine special operations units and selected air, ground, and naval conventional units; conducted civil–military and information operations on Basilan, in the Sulu archipelago, and elsewhere in Mindanao; provided intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, medical evacuation, and emergency care; aided planning and intelligence fusion at joint operational commands and force development at institutional headquarters; and coordinated their programs closely with the U.S. embassy country team. The authors conclude that Operation Enduring Freedom — Philippines contributed to the successful degradation of transnational terrorist threats in the Philippines and the improvement of its security forces, particularly special operations units. It identifies contributing and limiting factors, which could be relevant to the planning and implementation of future such efforts.

Excerpt

This report examines the role of U.S. special operations forces in Operation Enduring Freedom—Philippines from 2001 to 2014. the report documents the chief activities of U.S. special operations forces and their effects on transnational terrorist threats in the southern Philippines, the capacity and capability of the Philippine security forces, and the U.S.-Philippines bilateral relationship. the purpose of the report is to provide an authoritative and comprehensive account of a long-duration special operations mission to aid policymakers and military planners, as well as for use in professional military education. This detailed account illustrates the varied and robust types of operational assistance provided as a critical component of foreign internal defense, which distinguishes this special operations mission from security cooperation activities and train-and-equip missions. Foreign internal defense often includes training and equipping, but the focus is on employing and not just building capacity and capability. and unlike security cooperation, which often aims to secure access and build relationships, foreign internal defense seeks to harness those activities to achieve an operational result. To achieve that result, U.S. forces carry out a wide range of enabling and advisory activities on or near the battlefield, which can include direct support to combat or combat advising in accordance with rules of engagement established by U.S. policy and hostnation agreement, as well as civil affairs and information operations. Although the specific activities can vary, the U.S. emphasis in foreign internal defense is on supporting the objectives, plans, and operations of the host nation and partner forces.

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